The Plank

Whack-a-Mole in Pakistan

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The Pakistani military finally got serious, more or less, and launched a big offensive into Talibanland in South Waziristan. But this important LA Times story says the results have been something less than dazzling:

Pakistani military commanders say that after five weeks of fighting, they are in the final stages of their offensive aimed at crushing Islamic insurgents in South Waziristan, a rugged expanse of mountains and plateaus that for years has served as the primary base of operations for the Pakistani Taliban and as a sanctuary for Al Qaeda fighters.

When the offensive began Oct. 17, Pakistani military leaders said they faced a fighting force of as many as 10,000 battle-hardened militants. Thus far, however, the army has put the number of militants killed at 500.

None of the Pakistani Taliban's top leaders have been reported captured or killed. And accounts from villagers in nearby districts suggest that many militants simply fled South Waziristan.

The story quotes Pakistani officials saying that simply dislodging militants from their hideouts throws them into disarray and weakens their networks. Here's hoping. An important question is whether Pakistan means to follow through and make sure this is the case, or whether this offensive will amount to sweeping dirt under the rug.

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